Refugee exchange accepted in India ; not in Palestine

 In this piece in comparing India/Pakistan and Israel/Palestine, Lyn Julius finds some similarities, but also some key differences: While India and Pakistan accepted the flows of refugees in either direction as a permanent exchange, the Palestine Partition is unfinished business when it comes to refugees.

There is another key
difference: Hindu and Muslim leaders in India were dismayed at the
increasingly barbaric intercommunal killings, while in many cases Arab
leaders deliberately incited violence against Jews. The mass exodus of
Jews from Arab countries, who had no part in the 1948 war in Palestine,
was an egregious consequence of state-sanctioned collective punishment
of non-combatant citizens. It was as if Muslims in Bradford or Sikhs in
Toronto were persecuted and forced to flee merely for sharing the same
religion as Muslims or Sikhs in India.

When it comes to refugees, the Palestine
Partition is also unfinished business. While both Indian and Pakistan
accepted the exchange of refugees, only Israel absorbed Jewish refugees,
while the Palestinian refugee problem has been left by the Arab side to
fester. The Palestinian leadership perpetuates the conflict by clinging
to its ‘right of return’ to Israel proper.

But Partition in the Indian subcontinent
has not brought peace and reconciliation. Relations between India and
Pakistan, two nuclear powers, have been plagued by hostility and

In both cases, Partition has created an
imbalance on either side of the divide. Israel and India today are
prosperous and pluralistic, Pakistan and the Palestinian territories
have a history of bad governance and contempt for minority rights.
Israel’s population is 20 percent Arab, India’s is 14 per cent Muslim.
On the other side, a terrorist group rules Gaza where there are hardly
any Christians. The Palestinian Authority has not held an election for
ten years or more, and its Christian population continues to decline.
Pakistan has been governed by a succession of military dictatorships;
Islamist groups are tolerated in Pakistan’s tribal lands. A mere two per
cent of its population is Hindu; both Christians and Shi’a Muslims
suffer grievously. Pakistan has betrayed its own flag – green for Islam,
white representing minorities.

For this deplorable state of affairs, one can hardly blame nationalism, or the British, or colonialism.

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